Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Neal Patterson, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 17 September 2017.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20)
In Matthew 9:37, Jesus said to his disciples “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Jesus told a parable in Matthew 20. Who was this parable intended for and why was this parable told?
The parable in Matthew 20 actually relates to Matthew 19:30, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Peter had previously asked a question on what he stood to gain by following Jesus (Matthew 19:27). So Jesus told Peter the rights and the privileges of the coming Kingdom (Matthew 19:28-29).
Jesus also gives Peter a precautionary warning that many who are first will be last, and the last will be the first. The parable in Matthew 20 talks about our attitude in following Jesus.
It is not guaranteed that the more we labour, the more rewards we will receive in the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew 19:16, a rich young man was having issues with eternal life. This was during the pre-cross era, therefore Jesus explained to this young man to keep the Ten Commandments. But the young man asked a second question; "What do I still lack?" It was the second question that caused Jesus to emphasize what hinders us to follow Him.
God has saved us and called us to sanctification, and the motives of our hearts need to be transformed, our character needs to be perfected according to Christ's image. Is there anything in our life that hinders us from following Jesus?
If there is something that hinders us, then we need to make adjustments to remove it. In the case of this rich young man, it was his treasures on earth that becomes a hindrance to following Jesus. Matthew 20:1-16 – The purpose of this parable is for us to understand the heart of GOD. God doesn't want our relationship with Him to be based on agreement and bargaining. He wants our hearts' motivation to be corrected and He wants our trust and faith in following Him.
Is our relationship with Jesus now based on a Contract or is it based on our Trust in Him?
There is a difference between doing what is right and what is good. Jesus warned Peter of his heart's motivation to follow Him. We are to follow Christ with a right attitude in our heart; we should not demand God in contractual manners, imposing terms and conditions on Him. See every day as an opportunity to serve in His Kingdom in whatever capacity we can.